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Village council considers gas exploration proposal

January 3, 2012
Town Crier

Local attorney Damian DeGenova, a partner in Sulmona Energy, LLC, spoke to Poland Village Council before its final meeting of 2011 on Dec. 20 at the Village Hall. He addressed council members with an eye toward leasing parcels of land in the village, including in and around Poland Woods, for possible future natural gas exploration.

During his presentation to council, DeGenova spoke about the types of drilling utilized in extracting natural gas from the Utica Shale, which sits thousands of feet deeper than the Marcellus and Bedford shale layers, as well as the safety precautions taken during drilling, royalties and other issues. He was bullish on the potential for economic development and jobs growth that the oil and gas industry could bring.

"The scope of what this thing is going to turn into is almost unfathomable for this area," he said.

Following DeGenova's presentation, several council members admitted to lacking comprehensive knowledge on the subject, but openly voiced their concerns. When asked for his opinion on the matter, village solicitor Anthony D'Apolito said, "I don't know where you go as a village with regard to this."

Council member Christine Yash suggested getting in touch with their counterparts in communities that have gone through the process of leasing land for drilling. Citing both environmental and economic concerns, Councilman Bob Limmer said, "We have to be so careful of what we're doing here."

"At some point in time, I think what you have to do is put your trust in somebody after you investigate enough," Councilman Bill Dunnvant said. D'Apolito assured trustees that he would study the issue in depth to better advise them of future steps in the matter by the next meeting.

Councilman Al Lind, chairman of Buildings, Land, Utilities, Parks and Recreation, announced that the Poland Village Gardeners received unanimous approval for the extension of water and electric lines from the Village Hall to the garden for maintenance, which he called a worthwhile project. According to street commissioner and police Chief Russ Beatty, the Gardeners will pay for all the materials and supplies and, in return, the village grounds crew will install everything. Work will commence in the spring.

Council had its third and final reading of an ordinance nullifying the storm water utility ordinance, which was defeated by voters in last November's election. It was accepted 5-0, with Lind abstaining, maintaining a stand he has taken through the previous readings.

The meeting ended with fond farewells to Lind on the occasion of his last as a member of Poland Village Council.

"They say all good things must come to an end," he said. Lind referred to his 12 years on council as a learning experience, where he met "a lot of good people," and that he enjoyed working with everyone in Village Hall. "I hope that in some way, I've made a difference," he said.

The Dec. 20 meeting marked the first for Mazur since heart surgery in late November. He gladly accepted congratulations from council on his return to his position.

"You are one tough son of a gun," Dunnavant warmly said. He also offered condolences on the recent passing of John Rice, who had worked for the village for many years and served on STEP committee.

In other news:

* Emergency ordinances for year-end appropriations, funds transfer and for 2012 temporary appropriations were passed unanimously.

* An emergency ordinance establishing water rates with Aqua Ohio through Dec. 31, 2014, with an average fee of $1.88 per month for the average family. According to council President Joe Mazur, $250,000 will be spent on improvements to the water plant on Ohio 170 and $4.8 million of capital improvements to Poland Schools from revenues. "This is the best we could come up with," he said.

* Upcoming meetings:

Police 6:30 p.m. Jan. 2

Architectural Review Board 7 p.m. Jan. 5

Planning 7 p.m. Jan. 24

Zoning appeals 7 p.m. Jan. 5



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